Photo: Sharyn Morrow / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The recall of pre-packaged salad brands has been thorough, swift and effective according to the Produce Marketing Association and the Fresh Produce Safety Centre (FPSC). Richard Bennett (FPSC Technology Manager) said while this isolated and unfortunate incident has occurred that consumers can be confident that ready-to-eat salads on retail shelves are safe and healthy.

Australians have been consuming bagged salads for over 20 years and now eat their way through over 205 million bags per year. “That’s an impressive total, and it has an impressive food safety record, according to Bennett. But the Salmonella outbreak this week has put all growers on notice that they cannot be complacent about food safety”, he continued.

Bennett congratulated the Victorian food safety regulator on quickly identifying the source of the outbreak and taking decisive action. “Most foodborne illness outbreaks are never traced back to a source. The investigative work by the Department and the excellent traceability of the producer and retailers has achieved a quick result. We now know that all contaminated product is completely out of the system and we can move quickly to rebuild consumer confidence.”

The salad industry has strict food safety systems in place, guided by the Australian Food Standards Code. These procedures cover all aspects of growing and processing and are independently verified through regularly audits. “There’s been a glitch in the system of one producer, and that presents an opportunity for improvement. Unfortunately, the investigation is yet to reveal if the cause of the contamination is environmental, personal or equipment-related, he said, but we hope that it is identified soon so that salad food safety systems can be strengthened even further.”

The Produce Marketing Association Australia-New Zealand is the trade association for the fresh produce and floral industry, representing stakeholders throughout the supply chain. The Fresh Produce Safety Centre is the industry-led organisation established to enhance fresh produce safety through research, outreach and education.

Please contact Richard Bennett r… or 0429 329 731 for further information.

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